Family of Donovon Lynch responds to city manager’s confirmation that his body was moved after shooting

Virginia Beach

"If we had not told the public that Donovon was moved after he was shot, the city would have never revealed this information,” said Donovon's father.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The family of Donovon Lynch issued a statement on Wednesday, expressing that they have a growing list of unanswered questions following last month’s deadly officer-involved shooting.

Lynch, 25, was fatally shot by Virginia Beach Police on March 26, during a chaotic night at the Oceanfront. Police say DeShayla Harris was hit by a stray bullet in a separate incident. She died from her injuries. In all, 11 people were shot that night.

One of the questions the family has is why Lynch’s body was moved the night of the shooting, something their attorney Jeff Reichert brought up at a press conference on Monday.

WAVY reached out to Virginia Beach Police and Virginia State Police, which is now handling the investigation, for comment on the attorney’s claim. While neither responded, City Manger Patrick Duhaney did. He told 10 On Your Side:

We are restricted in our ability to provide information while the Virginia State Police investigation into the officer involved shooting is under way, however, we can clarify the circumstances regarding the movement of Mr. Lynch after the shooting occurred. In order to render aid to Mr. Lynch in a safer area, Virginia Beach firefighters and police officers carried Mr. Lynch about half a block east on 20th Street between Atlantic and Pacific avenues. Ms. Harris was found at the corner of Pacific Ave. and 19th Street and first responders rendered aid to her in that location. At no time were Mr. Lynch or Ms. Harris moved to be proximate to each other.

EMS and Fire crews followed guidelines for responding to active shooter and multiple casualty incidents. In those cases, patients are rapidly removed by rescue teams to secured areas where more effective treatment can be safely provided. Mr. Lynch was moved a short distance away where additional medical personnel and lighting were available. Mr. Lynch was determined to be deceased at the scene by EMS and Fire personnel shortly after he was moved. 

In Wednesday’s statement, Lynch’s family questions if he might still be alive if they had provided lifesaving efforts immediately.

“Why move a gunshot victim to additional medical personnel and better lighting instead of bringing the medical personnel with lighting to the victim?” the statement reads.

Another looming question for the family, which the Virginia Beach Police Chief has addressed, is why the body cameras of the two uniformed officers at the scene of Lynch’s shooting did not activate. Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate stated that the body camera was not activated for “unknown reasons.” The City Auditor’s Office is taking a hard look at police body-worn camera activation as part of an ongoing audit of the program, which began months before the March shooting.

The family also wants to know why more information about the officers, including their names, has not been released.

“Unlike Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, where city officials, within roughly 24 hours, had released body camera footage and the name of the officer involved in the shooting death of Daunte Wright, Virginia Beach and state officials continue to withhold information from the Lynch family and the public,” the statement continues.

The family also called for a retraction to the statement that Lynch was “brandishing” a weapon prior to the shooting.

“My son was murdered and now they continue to try to murder his name and his character,” said Lynch’s father, Wayne. “We will not rest until we get justice for my son and it begins with the police taking back the statement that he was brandishing a weapon.”

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate said he’d be more than happy to issue a retraction if the information changes. 

Family members, including Lynch’s cousin, music artist Pharrell Williams, have called for an independent investigation into Lynch’s death.

Currently, Virginia State Police is handling the case. The family says it has not been contacted by anyone from that agency.

Anyone with information or cell phone video before, of, or after the shooting should contact the Virginia State Police at 757-424-6800 or by email at questions@vsp.virginia.gov.

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